The University of Hyderabad (UoH) is one of the leading research-focused, multidisciplinary educational institutions, ranked consistently among the top 5 universities in the country. The University as an ‘Institution of Eminence’ is endeavouring to create an enabling and vibrant ecosystem for translational research to develop novel, innovative and viable technology leads, products, and services to move up its excellence ladder. Towards this the university took a few noteworthy initiatives. Chief among these is setting up the ‘Association for Scientific Pursuits in Innovative Research Enterprises’ (ASPIRE), a Not-for-Profit Section 8 Company promoted by the University of Hyderabad to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem on the campus and in the surrounding region. ASPIRE envisions creating an inclusive and enabling resource platform for budding entrepreneurs in diverse science and technology fields. Currently, three incubation centres (ICs) are functioning under ASPIRE, i.e., ASPIRE-BioNEST, ASPIRE-TBI, and ASPIRE TIDE, providing incubation support in the areas of Life Sciences, Pharma & chemistry, and IT & Electronics, respectively. These ICs are equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure and necessary instrumentation and are functioning with 100% occupancy.
In order to increase the participation of students, researchers, and faculty in the incubation activity in particular and to create an entrepreneurship culture on the campus in general, ASPIRE BioNEST started a concept competition exclusively for the UoH community. Concept Competition is held twice or thrice a year and the selected candidates are offered pre-incubation space, and chemicals & consumables to complete the idea, free of charge, for a period of 6 months. The selected idea gets technical and business mentoring support from experienced mentors and free access to the high-end instrumentation to execute the selected idea. They also get benefited from all the training programs and conferences which are being conducted periodically. Upon completion of the tenure, the successful ideas will be supported to participate in the funding challenges organized by different government bodies and private venture capitalists for taking it to the next level.
As a part of the first call for the concept competition ASPIRE BioNEST received more than 20 applications and after initial screening, 5 ideas were shortlisted for a pitch deck, evaluated by an expert committee. Based on novelty and feasibility 3 ideas were finally selected for the award; one from the alumni of the School of Life Sciences and Two ideas from the current students of the School of Computer and Information Sciences (SCIS). The award winners Dr. Pardha Saradhi Attuluri, and Rohit Kumar Bondugula received the certificates from the Vice Chancellor, Prof. B.J. Rao. Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Rao, explained that the UoH and ASPIRE have already become role models to many educational institutions in terms of having a supportive and nurturing innovation ecosystem for start-ups. The competition based pre-incubation program further encourages the UoH fraternity to utilize the state-of-the-art facilities of the ICs to translate their ideas into technologies. Prof. Rao was accompanied by the Director of ASPIRE BioNEST, Prof. S. Rajagopal, and other management staff of ASPIRE and ASPIRE BioNEST.